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Rules Not To Be Broken

Michigan Football team

Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains:

The greatest athlete is less than great if he can not perform optimally. Championship Running is different.  Anyone can have an excellent running program, but not necessarily a Championship Running Program.

As a young coach I often got lost in drills. I used to assume that it was the drills that you did that got you the results. I now know it’s the way you do the drills, not the drills that give you the desired outcome.

Each team in a conference worksout and prepares for the season. Each team is allotted the same amount of  time for preparation. What separates teams and athletes is how they use each repetition of their movement during each drill.  It is important for the team to understand – Every Rep Counts.

I presented the rules for Championship Running to the incoming freshman. Once they were on board they experienced activity first hand. The upperclassmen made sure all held fast to each detail of preparation. The coach’s job is to announce the drill and blow the whistle the team monitors and executes.

The rules of running are quite simple, yet difficult to adhere to. They are not presented in any particular order, but always followed from the minute the athlete steps on campus until the second to last workout of their Senior year.

The Seniors traditionally on the last workout rebelled at sometime during the session. It was always different timing as they were trying to trick me into thinking it was a normal run.  It was done as if I didn’t know what was going to transpire or the tradition had changed. It usually began by kicking over cones or suddenly doing a different drill than that was called for or lining up for an agility movement in strange ways such as the entire team in one line for a drill that requires 20 stations. After a short period of disrespect all would celebrate the last summer conditioning period by suddenly running off, led by the seniors to run through campus, stop somewhere and discuss the up and coming season or who knows what, as I was officially excluded. It was now the Seniors team and they were ready.

When the team returned to shower and change I felt good about how  they had developed a tradition of abruptly ending the last guided workout. I loved it, it was a testament to the fact they had for their entire careers subscribed to – no lack of earnestness in the discipline of becoming a Champion. The season had arrived and soon these men would finish their final year of football.

There are 18 Rules. Eighteen is the calendar year most athletes start college.

The Rules of Championship Running:

  1. Never miss a workout.
  2. When running a drill that requires touching a line, touch the line.
  3. When starting a drill, your hand, your foot or body is never, never, never over the line.
  4. When running a drill that requires you to run through a line, run through the line. You must also lean through the line to insure that you are getting through as quickly as possible.
  5. Never, never, slow down near the end of a drill. If you have doubt about where you finish, speed up. Run the extra yard.
  6. You must run every step of a given distance on any drill. The last cone, bag or rope is as important as the first or it wouldn’t be there. The last cone would have never been put out if it wasn’t to be used.
  7. Never, never anticipate or hesitate on a wave drill. It is only when you see the hand point in another direction do you move as quickly as possible where instructed.
  8. Never cut a corner. If you want to be great, do things the hard way. The hard way is to do things as they are presented. There are no shortcuts to success.
  9. Always run on the field. Once you are on the field run to each drill.
  10. Run to water and once you have completed drinking, run back to your drill.
  11. During rest you are allowed to stand up. Are you going to take a knee or lay down in the huddle.
  12. Never complain about workouts to anyone. A good attitude is never complaining.
  13. Always stay low in drills. Staying low is difficult when you are tired. Low is required.
  14. Try to win. Always try to win. When you run a drill, beat someone. If the person you are with is faster and in better shape, you can beat him sometime, somewhere, somehow. Try to win something, anything – win. You may be able to return from getting water faster – win.
  15. Never be late to running or anything for that matter. If you are meeting a teammate for conditioning or home running with a friend, be there first. Wait for him to show up. Even at home, start when you say you would.
  16. Wear school colors. Don’t run unattached.
  17. If you do not feel right tell the trainer or a coach immediately. Your judgement is respected and needed.
  18. Never be reminded of a rule.

Fielding Yost 1905

Likewise, no man can be a football player who does not love the game. Half-heartedness or lack of earnestness will eliminate any man from a football team. The love of the game must be genuine. It is not devotion to a fad that makes men play football; it is because they enjoy their struggle.

* The Coaches Rule – all incoming freshmen heart rate rest intervals will be monitored by the coaches and trainers until they have passed our expectations of fitness.

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